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How to play Backgammon

Backgammon is a board game for two players. There are 24 triangles on the board, alternate in color, called points. The board is separated into four quadrants known as the player’s home board and outer board, and their opponent’s home board and outer board. Home and outer boards are separated from each other by the bar which is located in the middle of the bar. Each player has 15 checkers to play with.


Deciding who goes first

At the beginning of each game, both players will roll a single dice each to determine who will go first. The player who rolls a higher number will go first. If both players roll equal numbers, they will continue to roll until someone wins.

In matches, players will roll to decide who goes first at the beginning of each game.

Object of the game

You must move all of your checkers to your home board and then bear them off one by one. The first player to bear off all of their checkers wins the game.

Checker movement

To begin your turn, you must first roll the dice to determine how many points (also known as pips) you can move your checkers. You can only move your checkers forward (counter-clockwise). The following rules apply:

  • You can move a checker only to an open point. A point is open when it is not occupied by two or more opposing checkers.
  • Each dice roll constitutes to a separate move. For example, if you roll 3 and 6, you may move one checker 3 spaces to an open point and another 6 spaces to an open point, or move one checker a total of 9 spaces to an open point, only if the intermediate point (either 3 or 6 spaces from the starting point) is also open.
  • If you roll a double (for example 6 and 6) you play the dice numbers twice. Doubles constitute to four moves.
  • You are required to use all moves of a roll if it is legally possible. If you cannot use all of your rolls, you must use the ones you can, skipping the others. If you can make either of the two moves but not both, you are required to use the higher roll.

Hitting and Entering

Blots are points which are occupied by only one checker. When an opposing checker lands on a blot, the blot is hit and moved to the bar. If you have checkers on the bar, you must first enter those checkers before conducting any other moves.

To enter a checker, you must move it to an open point in the opponent’s home board, corresponding to one of your dice rolls. If both points are not open, you must skip your turn. If you can enter only some of your checkers on the bar, you must enter as many as you can, and forfeit the remainder of your turn.

Once you enter all of your checkers on the bar, you must use your remaining dice rolls on legal moves (if any) before finishing your turn.

Bearing Off

Once you have moved all of your fifteen checkers into your home board, you can begin bearing them off. You can bear off a checker by rolling a number which corresponds to the point on which the checker resides and then removing it from the bar. Rolling 5 will allow you to bear off a checker at point 5 (which is the second from left to right on your home board).

If you have no checkers on the point indicated by the roll, you must make a valid move using a checker on a higher-numbered point. If you have no checkers on higher-numbered points, you can bear off a checker from a lower-numbered point. You are not required to bear off in this case unless there are no more legal moves to make.

You can only bear off if all of your remaining checkers are on your home board. If one of your checkers is hit during bearing off, you must first enter that checker and move it back to your home board, before you can resume bearing off. The first player to bear off all checkers is the winner of the game.


In matches, each game awards the winner with 1 (or more in the case of Gammons and Backgammons) points. You can double the stakes of the game by selecting Double at the beginning of your turn before you roll the dice.

If you’re offered a double by your opponent, you may refuse in which case you concede the game and pay one point to your opponent. You can also accept the double and play on for higher stakes. The player who accepts the double becomes the owner of the doubling cube and only he can double.

Subsequent doubles are called redoubles. If a player refuses a redouble, he must pay the stake prior to the redouble. Otherwise, he accepts the redouble and becomes the new owner of the cube.

Gammons and Backgammons

If at the end of the game, the losing player has borne off at least one checker, the winner will get points equal to the number shown on the doubling cube (1 if nobody doubled). However, if the loser did not manage to bear off any checkers, he is gammoned and the winner gets twice the value of the doubling cube. If the loser has not borne off any checkers and still has one of his checkers on the bar, he is backgammoned, and the winner gets three times the value of the doubling cube.

Other Interesting facts about Backgammon.